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The Future of Asia 2019

Mongolia braces for delay of state coal giant's IPO

Parliament chief says elections could interrupt move to list company this year

Gombojav Zandanshatar, chairman of the State Great Hural of Mongolia, speaks to the Nikkei Asian Review in Tokyo on May 30. (Photo by Manami Yamada)

TOKYO -- The head of Mongolia's parliament said that plans to list the state company that controls one of the world's largest coal mines could be delayed.

Gombojav Zandanshatar, chairman of the State Great Hural, told the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview that elections and other factors could impede the market debut of miner Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi this year. He was speaking on the sidelines of Nikkei's Future of Asia conference, held on Thursday and Friday, in Tokyo.

Previously, Erdenes had unveiled plans to raise up to $3 billion in a public stock offering in Hong Kong within 2019.

Mongolia plans to hold a general election in 2020. And in a by-election this June, more than 10 parties will compete to fill a seat that was left vacant after a parliament member stepped down following a rape allegation.

The Tavan Tolgoi deposit, in the south of Mongolia, holds estimated reserves of nearly 8 billion tons of coking coal. The company last year turned a net profit of 720 billion tugrik ($272.78 million), up more than 50% from the previous year, on revenue of 1.86 trillion tugrik.

Mongolia has been seeking IPOs of state-owned companies. "Privatization through a method of stock exchange will allow everyone to buy a certain share and could be a solution to inequality, which is a serious issue facing Mongolia right now," Zandanshatar noted.

Aside from reforms of state enterprises, the parliament chairman expressed a desire to "use advanced technology and expand exports of high-quality agricultural goods to Northeast Asia." Digitizing industries like agriculture and tourism will help drive growth, he said.

Mongolia's economy has been hugely dependent on the coal and mining sectors. Now the country hopes to take advantage of technology to enhance efficiency and achieve more stable growth.

Zandanshatar also called on Japanese companies to cooperate with Mongolia in fields like lithium-ion batteries. "Northeast Asia will continue to have great demand for [electric vehicles] and we hope to work together with Japanese companies."

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